Thoughts and observations on Thursday's ABC telecast of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final:
THE VERDICT: It was fairly unanimous from both the announcers and the intermission crew: This was the best game of the final, so far.
"This is what we expected to see," analyst Bill Clement said after a wide-open sequence in the third period.
TOUGH ENOUGH: Clement on Darryl Sydor after he blocked consecutive shots: "He's got a sore leg, sore neck, sore back. . . . He's just a hockey player in the finals."
Sydor struggled to get off the ice, but returned a short time later as play-by-play announcer Gary Thorne said almost breathlessly: "There's Sydor. . . . He didn't miss a shift."
CREDIT REPORT: Toni Lydman seemed to get too much credit for being so "smart" after Martin Gelinas redirected his shot in for a 1-0 Calgary lead. Even Clement had to admit a few seconds later that Lydman's wrist shot was at least 3 feet wide of the net. Super job by Gelinas, though.
MOUNT TORTS: Analyst John Davidson said that Lightning coach John Tortorella "is like a volcano starting to spew a little ash" during a frustrating first period.
FREE PASS: The announcers let Fredrik Modin off the hook after he missed a near-empty net off a great pass by Martin St. Louis in the first period. Modin shot the puck right at Calgary goalie Miikk a Kiprusoff, who was given credit for a great save by the announcers.
But they also went easy on St. Louis, whose errant pass-out to no one was picked up by Jarome Iginla and seconds later fired past Nikolai Khabibulin for a 2-1 Flames lead.
THANKS, NIK: Davidson made it clear what he would do after the first period: "If I were the Tampa Bay players, I'd go over to Nikolai Khabibulin and say, thank you, because they were getting blasted."
SMILE, PLEASE: "You want to see one happy man?" reporter Sam Ryan asked. The ABC cameras then showed stone-faced Lightning owner Bill Davidson, whose Pistons are playing for an NBA title. So, when do we get to see the happy man she promised?